This week for my Parents in Business series I’m delighted to feature Sarah the founder of Banks’ Business Solutions; an online business consultancy. This is brilliant interview and I really admire Sarah’s passion for setting up the business and continuing to run it during a three month sabbatical. The other reason why Sarah set up the business was to benefit her own mental health, as returning to work after having her second child wasn’t easy.
Do have a read of Sarah’s story, it’s a positive story to read right before the start of Maternal Mental Health Week. It contains success and trying to stick within school hours to maximise family time, although that isn’t always possible if you have a deadline or a request from a client at short notice. The top tips that Sarah shares will benefit any business too….
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I am Sarah, and I live in Derbyshire with my two daughters aged 7 and 11 and my husband David a schoolteacher. I run Banks’ Business Solutions an online business consultancy. I help businesses with any tasks related to their company’s online presence, working on a virtual basis to provide consulting and hands on services to improve how people’s businesses operate online. It could be creating a new website and setting up a sales funnel to attract new leads, or it can be setting up software and apps
Since 2018 I’ve also been helping business owners with GDPR, run audits on their website and business as a whole, and helped them become GDPR compliant. GDPR and PECR are continually being updated and affect how people operate their business, but in digital terms capturing personal information, processing it and using it for lead generation/sales is something I can help people get to grips with and stay on the right side of the law.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
Becoming a Mum changed my life, but it wasn’t easy, and I found that the transition from one to two children was quite difficult. Going back to my part time role at the University after having my daughter left me feeling I couldn’t cope and wasn’t being a great employee or mother. A chance conversation with a Mum at school, resulted in me considering self-employment.
To be honest my mental health was suffering when I returned to work, it has been fragile after having both of my daughters, but no one prepares you for the transition from full time Mum to part time everything! Added to that my eldest was at school, so even on my days off we were having to rush around to ensure we got her to and from school on time. There was never any downtime or time for me, and this made life quite difficult.
I also found it really hard to share how I was feeling as having suffered with mental health problems as a teenager, I was worried about being judged and people saying I wasn’t a good enough parent. I wish I had opened up more as it is only by talking about how we are feeling as we adjust to parenthood that we can really loose the stigma attached to mental ill health and support each other more.
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
I only work school hours and am quite strict with myself about that. I am lucky that my husband is a teacher, which helps massively during the school holidays. However as we like to travel, I also plan in some holidays where I work whilst we are away. This has worked well for us as a family as I am an early riser and can easily get a couple of hours work done before rest of the family are up, we can then have our time out and about, and I can do another couple of hours when the children are in bed.
It isn’t always easy and if I have some unexpected urgent work come in for a client I do occasionally work evenings, but I try to minimise this as my family always comes first.
Since setting up your business what’s been your biggest success to date?
Growing the business to the point that I now have 2 associates who work alongside me regularly and others who support me on projects. This has freed me up to be able to focus on the parts of my work I love the most and to provide additional support services to my clients.
Also the fact that I was able to run my business and travel for 3 months. We had always wanted to take a sabbatical and travel, but it had never been the right time, however 2 years into having my business I realised that there was no reason why we couldn’t travel and I could continue to work while we did it. So in 2018 we packed our bags and travelled through Thailand, Malaysia, Tasmania, New Zealand and Singapore on a 3-month trip as a family. I worked shorter hours but continued to run my business throughout the trip and since coming back the business has continued to grow.
What are your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Life becomes a rollercoaster when you are a business owner, there will be days when you are at the top of your game and everything is going well, but there will also be days when you start looking for jobs! Believe me I’ve been at both extremes, however if you surround yourself with the right support network you will get through it and find that the benefits of being self-employed far outweigh the challenges.
Thank you so much Sarah for taking part in my series it has been a pleasure to feature you.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Happy Sleepy Baby, Love Lemons, and Amy Merrywest Consulting.